Local runners, spectators reflect on Monday's tragedy
A number of local people who participated in or attended Monday's Boston Marathon, or who have done so in the past, offered their thoughts about what they saw and heard and how it has impacted their lives.
'We heard two huge bangs'
Kathy Antico, of Elysburg, was about two blocks away from the explosions that killed three people and injured more than 170 others near the finish line. She went to Boston with friends to watch her son Ryan's girlfriend, Katy Hribar, 27, and her sister, Maddy Hribar, 29, of Newbury Port, Mass., participate in the famous 26.2-mile race.
Katy is a fifth-grade teacher at Selinsgrove Area Intermediate School. She and Ryan Slater live in Harrisburg.
"We heard two huge bangs, but didn't know what they were at the time," Antico said Wednesday.
The Hribars' mother, Cindy, also from Selinsgrove, and Antico were going to meet Ryan and other family members near the finish line when the explosions went off. They heard from other people that it was a bomb.
"We were having a hard time finding people because cell phones weren't working. It was just really hectic," she said. "We saw police and bomb squad units. I'm glad we didn't see anyone injured or killed."
Despite the tragedy, she said Katy and her sister plan to participate in next year's marathon.
Antico said Maddy Hribar, who works for New Balance Shoes in the Boston area, was among the first 200 female finishers in the marathon - which has some 23,000 competitors, male and female. She has participated in the race three times, and in other marathons, while it was her sister's first appearance in the Boston Marathon.
Antico said her family and friends planned to come home Monday, but were delayed because of all the commotion and security measures caused by the explosions.
"We didn't get back home until Tuesday night. It took us three hours to walk to our vehicle in the garage," she said about getting around security.
Antico said her niece, Mary Martini, a native of Harrisburg and a certified public accountant in Boston, also participated in the marathon. Last year, Martini's boyfriend proposed to her at the finish line of the race, and the couple plan to marry in June.
Katy and Maddy Hribar, and their friend, Laura Rinck, of New York City, formerly of Selinsgrove, had finished the marathon and were sitting in a restaurant about two blocks away when they heard the explosions.
"We were waiting for our families," Katy said. "We actually had no idea what it was. We looked at each other and asked what that could have been. We thought it was thunder at first, but when we saw all the police cars and ambulances rushing to the finish line, we knew something was wrong."
Katy finished the race in 3 hours, 34 minutes, approximately 45 minutes before the explosions. Her sister completed the race in 3 hours, 1 minute, and Rinck finished the marathon about 10 minutes after Katy.
Despite being startled by the tragedy, Katy said she's determined to run in next year's marathon and praised the resolve shown by everyone affected by the explosions and the City of Boston itself.
"It's amazing how everyone responded to the tragedy," she said. "I think the marathon will have even more supporters next year because of what happened. The runners and the City of Boston are full of pride and have responded well to a horrible incident."
Two days after the explosions, Katy said the events still seem "very surreal." She said, "Every time I turn on the news, I question myself if this really happened. My heart goes out to those injured and killed and their families. The prayers and love they have received is overwhelming. I would like to thank everyone who assisted in any way. It's interesting how people come together in the face of tragedy."
Surgeon: 'What a sin'
John Furia, an orthopedic surgeon from Lewisburg, had finished Monday's marathon some 40 minutes ahead of the twin bombings. He'd received a text message from his business manager asking if he was OK - not yet aware of the chaos unfolding near the finish line.
While he and his father prepped to leave a city hotel and drive south to Providence, R.I., a dozen large black vehicles, rooftop emergency lights activated, were speeding through the heart of Boston.
"I'll never forget the sight," he said Wednesday.
The Furias pulled over and spoke to a student from MIT who told them what he knew of the bombings. They then turned on the radio to learn more. With bridges closed and main roads shut down, Furia and his father worked the back roads to Providence, accompanied on the ride by news of the developing tragedy.
"What a sin," he said of the pain inflicted on innocent people. "It was just so sad."
Furia grew up in North Providence, R.I., about an hour from Boston, and has strong ties in New England. His medical career included stints at Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts Medical Center, among the Boston hospitals that took in the many victims of Monday's bombings.
Monday's Boston Marathon was the fourth in which Furia had participated.
Two days removed, Furia remained thankful for his health, but was melancholy while he reflected on those who were killed or maimed. The attack also served to heighten his sense of patriotism.
"I am proud of my Italian heritage, but I've never been more proud of my American heritage. ... There's no question we live in greatest country in the world, and we need to remember that. Whatever your political views are, you have to be proud this is the country where you have the opportunity and ability to do the things you want to do. We're blessed to live in U.S."
Feeling grateful; feeling terrible
Beatriz Benedit said she felt strange Wednesday at Lewisburg Yoga and Wellness Studio, which she co-owns and where she had just finished teaching a class.
Two days prior, she had finished the Boston Marathon and was in her hotel room at Park Plaza when, like Furia, she received a message on her phone asking if she was OK.
She hadn't heard any explosions, but she could hear sirens. She turned on the TV and saw the chaos happening a half-mile away.
"I was kind of in shock because I had just been down there," Benedit said. "I'm feeling grateful that I wasn't there when it happened and feeling terrible for the people going through it."
She extended prayers to the victims and their families and anyone else affected by the attack.
"It was so much harder for so many other people. I feel very fortunate that I was able to cross before" the bombings, Benedit said.
She stayed the night in Boston and took a walk through Boston Commons. There was a strong police and military presence, but there weren't many people walking the streets that are usually bustling with activity.
Back in Lewisburg, no one asked about her time in her fifth straight Boston Marathon.
"It's just mainly, 'I'm just so glad you're home safe,'" she said.
'Support the marathon'
Tom Olcese, 82, of Coal Township, who has competed in many races over the years and participated in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in 1991, commented on the horrific events on Patriots Day.
"It sure was a catastrophe and it's going to take a long time to get over it. It's a shame it happened, but there's just no way to police against incidents like that in marathons that are 26 miles long," he said
His wife, Jean, 78, has participated in 13 Boston Marathons during her lengthy running career. She last competed in the race in 2004 and her best time in the marathon was 3 hours, 30 minutes, when she was 49. Monday's winning time for the female competitors was 2 hours 26 minutes and 25 seconds.
Jean, who noted it took three years for women to qualify for the race when she first competed, described the marathon. "It's always a wonderful event. It's a holiday in Boston. Schools and businesses are closed and there's people out all over the course and city," she said. "Everyone welcomes the participants and it's very thrilling when you can see the finish line."
As for the explosions, she said, "It's just terrible for the victims and their families. I imagine it was bedlam for everyone, especially the runners who didn't know why they were being stopped before they finished the marathon," she said. "I really hope people continue to support the marathon. My sympathy goes out to everyone involved."